Emotional Tale Of Loss And Recovery. This is one of those tales where you know up front that it is dark… and then it gets darker. And darker. And darker. With just enough humor to lighten things up a bit… and then a gut-punch of a form that may be used a bit often (as another reviewer claimed), but which works within the tale being told here. Similarly, as this is ultimately a tale of *recovery* from such devastation, one element of the epilogue that I’ve panned as unnecessary and even detracting from other books in other reviews actually works in this particular tale. And it works *specifically because* of the tale told up to that point. Truly an excellent work, and very much recommended.
Here, the Goodreads review below really does sum up my thoughts on the book quite well. It is a very well told, very visceral look at memory loss and pain, and it is so gut-wrenching it will leave you breathless. Truly one of the best books I’ve read this year for that very reason.
Prepare To Cry. Holy hell y’all. This book is one of the more tragic and yet also visceral books about memory loss I’ve encountered to date, bringing you into the mind of the person more than any other I’ve yet encountered. And it is also the one that made me *BAWL* unlike any since Barbara O’Neal’s 2019 WHEN WE BELIEVED IN MERMAIDS. Which was over 300 books ago for me. If you’re looking for a great story and a good cry, you’ve found one here. And just to be crystal clear, it isn’t like the things that make you cry are hidden – in both cases I picked up on them about a quarter ish of the book before Payne actually explicitly revealed them. And yet the execution on the actual reveal was so gut punching both times… wow. Very much recommended.
This week we’re looking at what is quite possibly the first modern book I’ve ever read that was originally written in another language. This week we’re looking at Letters To A Stranger by Mercedes Pinto Maldonado, translated by Jennie Erikson.
This was an interesting read. The mystery is solid and compelling, and the writing is excellent (at least in the English, and presumably in the Spanish – though I barely read or write Spanish and thus read the English version). But the book itself is all about loss, and that depressive state pervades this book almost from the first words to the last. (Though to be fair, the last words are a bit cliche, a slight mar to the finish of an otherwise outstanding work.) So as I note below, you’re almost going to be begging for a zany and hilarious romantic comedy as a palate cleanser after this one.
But there *is* a love story embedded within the loss, as well as a pair of redemptive arcs that play out on different time scales. These provide just enough levity to allow the gravitas of the loss to settle without being overbearing, and these show just how adept at her craft Maldonado is. This seems to be the first of Maldonado’s works to be translated into English, but this reader for one is hoping that more follow – I’m not quite so desperate to read more of her work that I would learn Spanish just to be able to do so, but I would indeed like to see more. Very much recommended.
As always, the Goodreads/ Amazon review:
Continue reading “Featured New Release of the Week: Letters to a Stranger by Mercedes Pinto Maldonado, Translated by Jennie Erikson”
Structurally, this book was intriguing. The “normal” structure for these types of books that delve into stories in both past and present is to alternate chapters or sometimes even scenes within a chapter. This book takes a seemingly novel approach to the novel and instead opens in the present, goes back to the past to tell that entire story up to the present day, and then comes back to the present to finish out the overall story. For the story of this particular tale, this structure worked very well indeed – and even within this structure, managed to save some surprises for late in the book.
The tale itself was heartbreaking and yet also full of hope. The struggles that the primary mother and daughter go through are immense, but the ending gets to a happily ever after that manages to leave at least one key plot point resolved yet ready for a sequel, should Ms. Farley choose to pursue it. Overall an excellent tale, my first from this Lake Union author, and yet again not my last. Very much recommended.
And as always, the Goodreads/ Amazon:
Continue reading “Featured New Release Of the Week: Only One Life by Ashley Farley”